Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Offbeat Submarine History: "You might have shaved with them yesterday"

Otto Kretschmer is considered an Ace of the Deep as commander of U-Boot U-99. From September 1939 until March 1941, he sank 47 ships (274,333 tons). He received the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, earning his nickname "Silent Otto" for his successful patrol tactics.

Silent Otto's U-boat conning tower displayed a golden horseshoe welded with its opening downward to signify good luck. Under attack from two British destroyers, Kretschmer surfaced, scuttled his boat, and lost three of his men. Kretschmer and the remainder of U-99's crew were captured by the British. Ironically, one of the British destroyers that sank his boat, also displayed a good luck horseshoe, but with its opening faced upwards for good luck. Silent Otto would spend almost seven years as a British P.O.W. He beacme a Flotilla Admiral after the war and died at 86 in August, 1998.

Crewman from a different U-Boat
Although Goebeler and his fellow recruits did not realize it at the time, they were being very carefully watched and evaluated during basic training. To his immense pride and satisfaction, Goebeler learned that he had been chosen for service in the navy's elite submarine corps.

Quote of the week
"There's no reason to say that the U-505 was a hard-luck ship," said Hans Goebeler. "No matter what happened to her, she always brought us back. She wouldn't even let anything happen to the Americans who boarded her. Those other so-called lucky ships, well, you might have shaved with them yesterday because they are all scrap now. But U-505 is on display in Chicago [at the Museum of Science and Industry]

In 1989, the U-505, the only IX.C U-Boat left in existence and the first ship captured on the high seas by the U.S. Navy since the War of 1812, was designated a national historical landmark by the United States.

Here is a great U-505 YouTube video:

Recognize the soundtrack?...



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